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Murray Carter – The ultimate privateer

Just as the 100 year celebrations for Repco wind down, born just nine years later is another legend of Australian motorsport featuring also a vast longevity in racing.

As Repco continues its support of Australian motorsport into its 101st year via naming rights of both the Supercars Championship and Bathurst 1000, Murray Carter only recently stopped racing bringing to a close a 60-plus year career.

Carter was mainstay of the Australian Touring Car Championship for close to 20-years and upheld the Blue Oval honour when support wasn’t always there.

Born in 1931, it’s a miracle Carter even got into motorsport considering his family didn’t own a car during his youth, while his father was not interested in this relatively new type of transportation.

Learnings from books and magazines grew Carter’s knowledge as he initially raced motorbikes, tinkering whether it had two or four wheels.

This tinkering never turned into a formal mechanical apprenticeship, but it didn’t matter as Carter progressed to road-racing by buying a Jaguar XK120 from Bib Stillwell before building his famous ‘Carter Special’.

Powered by a mighty 283 cubic inch Corvette engine and many smart tricks such as the suspension, Carter was successful in the open-wheeler before an accident at Phillip Island convinced him to rebuild it as a sportscar.

Debuting in 1960 featuring a chassis designed by Carter, it continued his successful trend as he finished runner up Bob Jane in the 1963 Australian GT Championship for the localised and short lived Appendix K regulations.

Stepping away from motorsport for some time led to a re-entry via Series Production as Carter started a long affinity with Ford through its GT-HO, hardtop, XD/XE and Sierra days. These were interrupted by stints in Mazdas and Nissans.

Carter was aided by Ford during the 1970s where he even loaned his Shell GT-HO to ATCC leader Allan Moffat at Mallala after the factory Ford was stolen.

A best finish of second in the ATCC for 1975 demonstrated Carter’s tenacity as he remained loyal to the Blue Oval despite its tendency to enter then quickly leave the sport.

In fact, Carter played a massive role in keeping Ford in touring cars ahead of the 1980 change of touring car regulations as he and New South Wales privateer Garry Willmington homologated the new XD Falcon, against the marque’s wishes.

Thus, this rejuvenated Dick Johnson’s career and Ford became a force during the new Group C era.

However, Carter didn’t see out the new generation era in the Ford he helped homologate as a move to Mazda followed in 1984, finishing inside the top 10 of the championship.

Carter for the first time raced with turbo technology in 1986 in a Nissan DR30 Skyline RS and was the first touring car to telecast telemetry. Although not successful with the Nissan, Carter opted for turbo technology again as he returned to Ford with the Sierra Cosworth RS500.

Never having enough budget to compete with the frontrunners during his final few seasons, Carter’s most memorable moment during this period was the Sierra busting into flames at Phillip Island.

A move into production cars followed culminating in Carter returning to his Corvette roots in Nations Cup before handing in his racing licence at the age of 86 in 2017, though he continued to tinker in his Cheltenham workshop opposite Southland Shopping Centre in Melbourne’s south-east.